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Spinal Concepts Inc.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Orthopedic Implants. Spinal Concepts hopes to offer a complete line of spinal implant products, with an internally-developed posterior lower back fixation device which simplifies in-wound assembly, an interbody fusion cage which can be adjusted after implantation with multiple degrees of freedom and an on-the-market product for small bone fixation which may potentially be used for posterior cervical fixation.

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The Buzz at JP Morgan--Devices: No Longer the Conference Stepchild

Over the past five years, big cap device companies have been some of the strongest performers among all life science stocks, and this year's conference represented something of a renaissance of device companies. However, most interesting wasn't so much the revival of interest in device stocks itself, but the message that device companies sent and that investors are embracing: "Forget about the hype; slow and steady wins the race."

Spine Arthroplasty's Next Generation

Spine arthroplasty--replacing either the entire disc or simply the nucleus--is one of the most promising new therapies to treat patients with herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. But the technology has had a rocky history: rushed into patients too soon, without proper clinical trials, say critics, disc replacement languished in Europe and took a long time to attract interest in the US. Moreover, first generation arthroplasty products, most notably discs, had several drawbacks that limited adoption--some were very hard to implant, for example, while others were too stiff and tended to extrude. Companies like Disc Dynamics hope to ride the wave of interest in disc and nucleus replacement as it develops new technology that is both superior to first generation products and backed by the proper kinds of clinical studies.

Spinal Dynamics Sticks Its Neck Out

For the past decade, fusion, cage or not, has been the gold standard in spine surgery. Now, a handful of companies, including Seattle-based Spinal Dynamics, is betting that fusion will be replaced by joint replacement, in this case artificial disc replacement, in spine surgery just as it did in total hip and knee surgery many years ago. Spinal Dynamics' main challenge lies in overcoming surgeon skepticism, especially in cervical procedures where fusions are common and very successful. And to help, they've lined up a distribution agreement with spine market leader Medtronic Sofamor Danek.

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